Friday, February 27, 2015

Even Your Dreams are Square

There's a great The Simpsons episode in which Springfield celebrates the bicentennial of the town's founder, Jebediah Springfield. While researching a report on the intrepid leader, Lisa uncovers a secret: Jedediah is really the notorious pirate, Hans Sprungfeld - archenemy of George Washington.

Torn between her need for the truth and a town happy to keep its founder's legend alive, Lisa dreams of George Washington, who asks her to help expose Springfield as the traitorous Sprungfeld.
As Bart walks by her room, Lisa wakes up, shouting, "I want to help you, George Washington!"

To which Bart replied, "I want to help you... George Washington"? Man, even your dreams are square."
Well, last night I had a dream in which I couldn't find my sister, and the only person able to help me find her was...Franklin Roosevelt.  To find her, he read aloud from a magic newspaper.
So, yeah, I dreamed about FDR...reading aloud from a magic newspaper.

Man, does this mean even my dreams are square?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Journey of aThousand Miles

I've always thought of myself as being pretty active. I played on my high school tennis team (JV doubles), ran a 25K, and back packed over the Continental Divide. So when the nutritionist I'm working with set a goal for me to take10,000 steps each day, I raised a derisive eyebrow. 10,000 steps? I sleep walk 10,000 steps!

Yeah, about that. All that tennis and hiking and 25K-ing was a long time ago. A long time. 10,000 steps? That's crazy talk!

Since discovering the pedometer on my phone earlier this week, the closest I've come to hitting that goal is 6,171 steps, which included 20-minutes on my treadmill. Sixty one-percent? That's not even a gentleman's C!

Needless to say, I've become completely obsessed with hitting that 10,000 mark. Get up to use the bathroom and return to my desk? Thirty steps. Grab a piece of fruit from the kitchen? Another thirty. It all adds up. As Mao Zedong famously said, "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."

Hmmm, I wonder how many steps that is?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Not As Seen on TV

When I was a little boy, I loved the television show, Emergency!, which told the story of a Los Angeles paramedic crew saving people's lives. One of the character was more straight laced, and the other a fun-loving joker - he, naturally, was my favorite.
Over a period of 10 or so days, I had two child-related emergencies.  And neither of them was as glamorous or rib tickling as Emergency!

First, Gus did an overnight winter camp with his Boy Scout troop. Along the way, he was crashed into by a sled driven by boys from another troop, which then crashed into a second sled. Of the 400 kids at the camp, there was only one the Greek kid. Coincidence?

Anyway, upon his return, although he insisted he was fine, I took him to our local InstaCare just to be safe. There were no wisecracks, no handsome paramedics covered in grime. Just a matter-of-fact doctor, who felt around Gus's knee, ordered an x-ray, and whisked out of the room, before she told a nurse to wrap it in an Ace Bandage. For the next handful of days, Gus decided he needed to walk like someone from the Ministry of Funny Walks or a character on Gunsmoke.

Then earlier this week, I was cooking dinner, when Niko came flying through door, screaming. He had fallen off his scooter and chipped a tooth.I tried not to faint at the sight of the blood pouring from his broken lip, while I frantically called our wonderful dentist, who luckily was available for an emergency visit. 

Clutching my hand as if he was holding on for dear life, Niko braved the dentist. And left the office good as new. The only damage a fat lip, which he hid at Greek school behind my handkerchief. I think he thought he looked rather mysterious and cool.
In reality? I thought he looked a little more, well...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I Remember Snow

Our first winter back in Utah, we had a lot of snow. After playing in it for the first time, Gus decided it must have been the reason we moved back. The next year, we saw our first snow in October, and they were still skiing in June.

 November, 2010 - the "start" of the snowy season.
But for the past couple of years, we've had little to no snow. Thus far this season, we've had snow only twice, and needed to shovel our walks only once.
The same location, February 2015.
Something's not right. But I keep hearing members of the Utah Legislature (and "experts" on Fox News) arguing that global climate change in just a "theory." You know, a gravity.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Niko and Dad Get Their Geek On

When I was a kid, I tried to start a club in which the members would research, write, and present reports about different countries. Needless to say, my buddies weren't really interested in my Geography Club, and after my attempts to recruit members resulted in absolutely no takers, it disbanded before anyone could hear my riveting piece about the Benelux Low Countries.

Forty years later, I may have an actual member!

Niko has always taken everyone's Mexican flags on toothpicks from their plates at La Macarena. But last week after seeing the Union Jack sticking out of my fish and chips, he announced he wanted to build a collection of little flags on toothpicks from around the world.

So we ordered a set from Amazon. His first order of business? Rifle through the flags with a single-minded determination looking for one flag in particular: Greece.

He then mounted them in Styrofoam.
Then he decided he needed some sort of labeling system, so he can identify which flag represents which country. There are, after all, 100 flags.
So last night we made a master list. We looked up the flags we didn't know, and I explained some of the similarities and differences. For example, how all the Scandinavian countries have the same design, but different colors.
We talked about Muslim countries have a crescent moon and star on them, like Christian countries have a cross. And yeah, I may have mentioned that Serbia, Romania, Russia, Armenia and Georgia are all Orthodox Christian countries.

He told me about the different symbols and designs he saw, and hypothesized what they represented. The placement of these stars, for example...
 ...clearly form an "H" for Honduras.

But why there's a chicken sphinx on Zimbabwe's flag remains a mystery.
When we were done, we had a nice legend with a picture of each flag and the name of the country it represents in order of how he placed them in the Styrofoam. He can't wait to take his collection to school to show his flags to his friends.
Who knows, maybe one day he'll ask me to tell him all I know about the Benelux countries comprised of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, for which a committee focused on cooperation between the three countries commissioned a flag in 1957, which probably isn't found in any mail-order box of national colors on toothpicks.
The lion is from the Luxembourgian coat of arms...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Little Too Authentic

As you may remember, dear reader, this past August I ceased being a vegetarian and began eating fish. I made this decision on the advice of medical and nutritional experts in order to get better control of my glucose.

Today I received the results of my annual blood tests. Both my A1c (the percentage of hemoglobin coated in sugar - a determination of diabetes) and my average blood sugar are down. (Though we still have a ways to go.) Additionally, my hereditarily crazy high triglycerides are down 10%!

My taste for fish actually surprised me. I like it far more than I though I would. I also think I've become a more adventurous diner. For example, a couple of weeks ago, my sister and I took the boys to lunch at their favorite Mexican restaurant, La Macarena. This place has to be good, because we're usually the only non Latinos in the place (and on more than one occasion the boys and I have been spoken to in Spanish.)

With my expanded horizons, I ordered the tilapia. When it arrived, the boys gasped in horror. It was, well, smiling back at me.
The fish was delicious, so tasty and authentic. However, for this guy, the presentation was a bit over the top. I only ate the area between the head and tail. The boys were mortified, daring me to eat the eyes. I may eat fish but there's only so much authenticity I can take!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Miracle on Ice

Do you remember the story of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York? The underdog American hockey team beat the Soviets and then the Finns to win their first gold medal since the 1960 Squaw Lake Games.
It was an exciting moment during one of the frostiest times of the Cold War.

This hockey season hasn't been terribly rewarding for Gus. As of Saturday morning, the Predators had a 0-9-3 record.

But yesterday afternoon, that record fell. With a 3-0 victory over the Rangers, they chalked one into the win column.
At last. The sweet smell of victory!

Perhaps coincidentally, the win came on Gus's hockey patron's birthday, his Uncle John Cobus...